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MASHKEL, BALOCHISTAN: Thousands of people, including women and children, are awaiting relief out in the simmering heat of Balochistan’s border town of Mashkel.

The remote village was badly affected Tuesday by a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Iran, which sent tremors across the border and saw most of it's mud houses and shops destroyed.

Forty people have been reported to have been killed while over 100 are injured. Military helicopters have airlifted some 20 critically injured to CMH Quetta.

Relief efforts are underway by the Pakistani military, but locals complained of a shortage of food supplies, drinking water and tents. The area has been without electricity since it was jolted by the powerful tremors.

Locals said the area gets electricity from Iran across the border.

Two aftershocks have struck the area since this morning and residents are still in a state of panic and fear. More than 2,000 houses and dozens of shops have been razed to the ground by the earthquake.

Mashkel is a remote village close to the Pakistan-Iran border and is the worst affected by the earthquake. It has a population of around 40,000.

It took at least 20 hours for the media, including Dawn.com’s correspondent, to reach the affected area.

Locals said when the earthquake struck Mashkel, not a single doctor was present in the village. The only available facility was a rural health centre operated by a lone dispenser, barely able to cater to the injured. This resulted in additional casualties which could have been avoided had prompt medical help reached in time.

Haji Abdur Rasheed Reiki, the head of elders of Mashkel, is a worried man.

“No help has reached us. It is just the military which is helping us in a limited way. There are no signs of any civilian administration or a mechanism for the provision of medical aid. We need food and drinking water desperately. The weather is very hot too. It will take weeks for us to rebuild our houses. But for that we need help,” he told Dawn.com.

Reiki said most families were taking shelter under the trees.

Dost Mohammed, a vegetable vendor, saw his shop and house destroyed.

Facing an uncertain future, he has already started rebuilding his house but is still worried about his business.

“My shop is destroyed and I don’t know whether the government will help us to rebuild our shops and houses. Right now there is no hope as no one is coming for our help. We are very far away from cities but I request my brothers in other parts of the province to send us help,” Mohammad said.

The quake also completely destroyed the area’s communication system.

Inspector General Frontier Corps Obaidullah Khan visited the area this morning to assess the damage and directed FC personnel stationed there to provide all help to the affected.

According to the ISPR, five helicopters have reached Mashkhel along with medical staff, tents, 1,000 kilograms of medicines and 1,800 kilograms of rations along with other relief items on an emergency basis.

US offers to help

Putting aside America’s longstanding enmity with Iran, and its more recent strains in relations with Pakistan, US Secretary of State John Kerry offered “our deepest condolences” to the families of the dead and to the injured.

“We stand ready to offer assistance in this difficult time,” he said.

Disaster relief contributed to an earlier thaw in relations between the United States and Iran, which — then led by reformist president Mohammad Khatami — accepted US personnel following the huge Bam earthquake in 2003.

The United States has also engaged in disaster diplomacy with Pakistan, briefly improving its abysmal image in the country through a robust relief operation following a 2005 earthquake in Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon also expressed condolences after Tuesday’s Iran-Pakistan disaster.

“I will continue to follow the news closely as relief workers and search-and-rescue teams reach the areas. The United Nations stands ready to help as necessary if asked to do so,” he said. —AFP